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Only You Can Prevent Privacy Foul Ups on Facebook

In the winter of 2010 I learned that a former colleague of mine had left her old job and taken a new one.
In April I learned that a woman whose wedding I attended had left her husband – both were good friends of mine.
This month I learned another friend had left his wife of quite a few years for another woman.

I learned all this not with a phone call, a private text message or an e-mail. I learned it all through Facebook.
In the case of the job move I found out when my friend updated her status on the “Info” page. In the case of the woman who left her husband I found out when her network changed from one city to another but his network city stayed the same. In the last case, I learned about the couple’s divorce when his marital status changed from “married,” to “In a relationship.”
Now all these were people were good friends of mine so I would presumably have heard these painfully intimate facts through regular communications. But what trips me out is that I heard it FIRST on Facebook. And not because they directly told me but because of Facebook loosey goosey information sharing techniques.
Facebook the Ultimate Open Book
I’m the type of person who believes in more is better theory. As a former journalist I fought for information access. Yes, it was appropriate for me to know how much city officials got paid. Afterall, taxpayers were paying their salaries. But the information that is posted on Facebook each day goes beyond public necessity into private hells. No more are we allowed to hide behind faux bliss. The minute our life takes a turn for the worse people can read it in our Facebook messages – in the wall updates, photos we share, even a simple status change.
Now government, pundits, policy makers and regulators are blaming Facebook for viciously thwarting the privacy rights of its users with the way it runs its service. And to answer the critics or perhaps head off Congressional action, Facebook has responded with ways people can make their information more private. But I say it is not Facebook that has the problem. It’s the fame-seeking psyche of the American people who pants to divulge all of themselves in the hopes of recognition and praise that is the problem.
Only You Can Prevent Facebook Privacy Problems
Instead of blaming our tendency to expose ourselves to the world, Facebook critics are blaming its callous owner. But I say Facebook is perfectly clear about what happens to the information you share on their networking site. It belongs to them. In Facebook’s privacy policy
which it asks everyone to agree to before you can sign up for an account, it gives pretty clear and simple directions on what it does with the content you upload to its service. In its “Exporting Information,” section it makes it pretty clear that whatever information you upload it can be shared.

You (and those you make your information available to) may use tools like RSS feeds, mobile phone address book applications, or copy and paste functions, to capture, export (and in some cases, import) information from Facebook, including your information and information about you. For example, if you share your phone number with your friends, they may use third party applications to sync that information with the address book on their mobile phone.

It also states when you deactivate your Facebook account it is NOT delete. The photos, messages, links etc., you uploaded will be stored by Facebook. Basically everything you upload is owned by them and can be used by them.

Deactivating or deleting your account. If you want to stop using your account you may deactivate it or delete it. When you deactivate an account, no user will be able to see it, but it will not be deleted. We save your profile information (connections, photos, etc.) in case you later decide to reactivate your account. Many users deactivate their accounts for temporary reasons and in doing so are asking us to maintain their information until they return to Facebook. You will still have the ability to reactivate your account and restore your profile in its entirety. When you delete an account, it is permanently deleted from Facebook. You should only delete your account if you are certain you never want to reactivate it. You may deactivate your account on your account settings page or delete your account on this help page.

Limitations on removal. Even after you remove information from your profile or delete your account, copies of that information may remain viewable elsewhere to the extent it has been shared with others, it was otherwise distributed pursuant to your privacy settings, or it was copied or stored by other users. However, your name will no longer be associated with that information on Facebook. (For example, if you post something to another user’s profile and then you delete your account, that post may remain, but be attributed to an “Anonymous Facebook User.”) Additionally, we may retain certain information to prevent identity theft and other misconduct even if deletion has been requested. If you have given third party applications or websites access to your information, they may retain your information to the extent permitted under their terms of service or privacy policies. But they will no longer be able to access the information through our Platform after you disconnect from them.

So if you don’t want anyone to find out about it DON’T UPLOAD IT ONTO FACEBOOK.




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